Pullman and the Grenfell Tower Fundraiser

Philip Pullman, author of His Dark Materials, offered to let readers bid for a chance to name one of the characters in his next book to benefit the victims of the recent Grenfell Tower disaster. A teacher is bidding for the name of one of his students, a resident of the tower who did not survive the fire — “Teacher’s bid to name Philip Pullman character after Grenfell Tower pupil gets £16,000 backing”.

Authors and well-wishers raising money for the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire are augmenting a bid by a teacher to name a character in His Dark Materials author Philip Pullman’s new book after one of his former pupils, who lost her life.

Nur Huda, 16, died in the fire along with her parents Abdul Aziz and Fouzia, and her siblings Yasin, 21, and Mehdi, 8.

The teacher’s £1500 bid has been augmented by others’ donations, both small and large (one for £5000).

Many in the publishing industry are joining the Authors for Grenfell Tower online auction, offering items to help raise money for British Red Cross’s relief fund for Grenfell Tower residents and neighbors.

In addition to Pullman, sff donors include:

[Thanks to Nigel for the story.]

Spoilery Sci-Fi Video Roundup

By Carl Slaughter: (1) Logan. Logan is dying because admantium is poisoning him, right?  Not exactly.

(2) Spider-Man. Spoiler alert:  The identity of Spidey’s love interest in Homecoming has been revealed.

(3) Spiked. Cancelled Batman movies.

(4) GoT. The 10 most powerful items in Game of Thrones.

(5) Cattle call. 38 actors you didn’t know were in Star Trek.

(6) No swiping. Weirdest Star Wars ripoffs.

(7) Ten-hut! 8 best military sci-fi movies.

Exploring the Videosphere

By Carl Slaughter: (1) Solve for the missing X. Deleted scenes explain the background on Logan X-Men characters who are referenced but did not appear or had smaller roles. To avoid X-Men 3 syndrome, the director chose to focus on the 3 main characters.

(2) Let he who is without sin. If anyone can find 113 things wrong with “Logan,” universally considered by far the best X-Men movie ever, it would be the guys at Cinema Sins. A lot of complaints about minor plot holes, but no attacks on the characterization or themes.

(3) Hear hear. Fifteen minutes of Picard’s most inspirational speeches.

(4) And more. 50 great Captain Picard quotes.

(5) Wry-fi. 25 great Commander Riker quotes.

(6) Klingon epigrams. 25 great Worf quotes.

(7) Wrath of Khan: original interviews. 1982 Interviews with William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, and Ricardo Montalban. See Nimoy in pink shirt, pink tie, and striped jacket.

(8) Overpowered. 10 worthless and underused characters in Game of Thrones.

(9) Land shark. 10 deadliest characters on Game of Thrones.

(10) Cut short. Speculative movie franchises that were cancelled before the series was completed.

(11) WW. This Youtube Nerdist “Save the World” music video Wonder Woman mashup tribute defies description.

(12) Sith sense. Darth Vader waxes punny and punny and punny.

(13) Captain Z-RO. The Great Pyramids Episode. 1950’s Time Travel

Every week Captain Z-Ro and his assistant Jet would observe world events and travel through time to help historical figures.

The SinCast Brackets

By Dann Todd: Chris Atkinson, Jeremy Scott, and Barrett Share are the brilliant movie mavens behind the SinCast.  Unlike their Cinema Sins YouTube program, the SinCast is a serious discussion about the relative merits of various movies.

Chris, Jeremy, and Barrett all have spent some time working in movie theaters.  A couple of them had rather extensive careers encompassing every position within your average movie house; including tickets, concessions, projectionist, and house manager.

The guys recently completed a series of podcasts discussing the best films of each year that they have been alive.  Their next step was to develop a March Madness-style bracket to arrive at the single best film from the years that they have been alive.  In the tradition of the American NCAA Division I basketball tournaments, SinCast Madness has 68 movies competing for the top slot.

The 47 “winners” from each year they were alive made the cut.  The rest of the field was selected from other noteworthy films from the same era.  The four #1 seeds include 2.5 science fiction/fantasy movies.  (Back to the Future, Children of Men, and Jaws (which is like Alien, but without the outerspacey stuff))  They have been quite kind towards SF/F movies in the past; periodically preferring genre works to Academy award winning stuff.

The competition begins with Episode #59. and eight movies vying for the four #16 seed slots.  The show notes include a link to an image of their bracket.  There is a cleaner version here.  They are already through the first round of competition.  So catch up!

The SinCast is available via SoundCloud and iTunes.

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SFF.net to Close

SFF.net, a longtime internet community that was historically important to the genre, will close on March 31.

Jeffry Dwight and Steve Ratzlaff informed their users:

We are sad to announce that, after 20 years, SFF Net is going offline. Although the reasons are prosaic (increasing costs, diminishing revenue), our deep regret is that we will be unable to continue serving our loyal friends. SFF Net has, at the core, been about online friendships, shared interests, and shared lives.

We deeply appreciate each of you who’ve joined us (and stuck with us) over the years.

Dozens of authors’ webpages will go away, and the SFF.net newsgroups/WebNews will be discontinued.

One reason writers gravitated to SFF.net is that it once hosted SFWA’s private forums, however, that connection was severed in 2014 when SFWA moved the content to its own domain.

Dwight and Ratzlaff have created an SFF Net Facebook page “where you may still interact with others from our community.”

SFF.net traditionally posted a rose at the top of the page to commemorate someone of interest to the community who has recently died — moonwalker Gene Cernan when I looked today. Soon there will be one last rose, for SFF.net itself.

goodrose

[Thanks to Cat Rambo for the story.]

The Greatest Show On Earth

By Steve Vertlieb: While I love animals, and certainly have no desire to see them treated cruelly, I can’t help but mourn the loss of the Ringling Bros-Barnum & Bailey Circus.

Perhaps we didn’t know any better these past one hundred forty-six years or, even worse, didn’t want to know about how circus animals were denied their freedom, or treated. Yet, it seems that a moment of historical innocence…an entire chapter, if you will…is passing us by, and leaving our lives forever.

The circus has been an integral part of our youthful memory since the beginning of things. It is difficult to recall a time when the passage of childhood into maturity was not marked by a joyous trip to the circus where wild animals would thrill millions of children, while daring trapeze artists flew “through the air with the greatest of ease,” and clowns of all shapes and sizes brought tears of laughter and happiness to “children of all ages.”

In a time of anger, bitterness, cynicism, and sadness…I cannot help but wonder if this passing of an iconic tradition leaves us better or worse….or if this passing is yet another nail in the coffin of eternal optimism, dreams, and of hope in a world that has grown somehow bleak and sad. Perhaps we didn’t know any better this last century-and-a-half. Perhaps we didn’t want to know…and yet, I cannot help but mourn the loss of a generations old tradition that left an indelible smile upon childhood’s memory. I cannot help but mourn the fading glimpse of a world that was, indeed, more innocent…yet undeniably happier…a world that is soon to become “Gone With The Wind.”

Yes, it’s the end, after 146 years…The Greatest Show On Earth will be no more in May of this year.

Help Zig Zag Claybourne

Author Clarence Young’s house was robbed on Friday the 13th. Young, who writes as Zig Zag Claybourne, is known for The Brothers Jetstream: Leviathan, Neon Lights, Historical Inaccuracies, By All Our Violent Guides, and In the Quiet Spaces (the last two under C.E. Young). He attended last year’s Worldcon in Kansas City.

Young needs help bouncing back from the robbery and has launched a YouCaring appeal, “Thieves Got In Clarence Young’s Temple”.

I’m a writer. Sometimes I’m Clarence Young; sometimes I’m Zig Zag Claybourne. I try never to write anything that doesn’t point a way no matter how bleak the path. 2015 and 16 were hard years for me personally and financially. 2017, so far, wants to be the bigger, badder sequel. A job opportunity I was counting on collapsed; I’m looking at the short end of essentially being homeless; on top of that, the house I’m in was thoroughly robbed… on Friday the bedamned thirteenth of 2017. I’m still reeling from it. But the violation also galvanized me to realize that I’m at a point of no return unless I reach out for help. I’ve always provided help, be it financially to family and friends, be it through my writing, mentoring, or trying my best to keep imaginations excited so everyone feels they belong to the tapestry of creation. Asking for help isn’t my go-to.

But I need you. Expenses to replace some of the stolen items, expenses to get into a new place, basic living expenses: I’ll be tapped out very, very soon. I’m not a frivolous person, and I’m generally frugal, but right now I can’t do this alone. I know everybody has their own loads. Any help would be deeply appreciated.

So far $1,843 of the $20,000 goal has been raised. Eileen Gunn, Nick Smith, Rajnar Vajra, and Kelly Robson are among the supporters.

[Via Black Gate.]

Kowal Drops SFWA Candidacy

Mary Robinette Kowal, who intended to run for SFWA President in 2017, has withdrawn after learning Cat Rambo will seek re-election.

Well, this is awkward… But here’s the thing. When I decided to throw my hat into the ring for SFWA president, I thought Cat Rambo wasn’t running again. I think contested elections are good, because it allows members to make decisions about the direction an organization is headed. Cat and I?

The fact is that she and I are politically aligned on where SFWA should be heading. We’re both interested in keeping things moving in a more inclusive and supportive direction. She’d already created a committee to start looking at getting health insurance for SFWA members, headed by board member Sarah Pinsker.

She’s the one who has been driving the changes to the Nebula Conference.
So… After a good deal of conversation, I realized that if I signed up to be on the health insurance committee and keep doing the programming for the Nebula Conference, that it allows me to focus my full attention on both of those things, while leaving Cat to handle the board and all the minutiae of making the organization run.

Kowal indicated she might be interested in running again in 2019.

Eric Flint Has Cancer Surgery

In two public Facebook posts Eric Flint tells about his cancer diagnosis and the splenectomy that followed.

He’d been feeling terrible

EVERYTHING exhausted me. I couldn’t write, I couldn’t edit, I could barely mage to read.

I had no appetite and if I tried to eat I would soon become nauseous. One of the byproducts of the process is that I’ve lost about 35 pounds over the past month.

To describe my mental state as “depressed” is a laugh. I actually felt like I was living in a black hole. I can honestly say that, psychologically as well as physically, that stretch of 2 weeks or so in the middle of this past month was the worst period of my whole life.

I’ve never experienced anything like it — hell, anything _close_ to it. I am normally an energetic person with a very sanguine outlook on life, and now I felt like Don Juan being dragged down to hell — and, dammit, I hadn’t even done anything to deserve it!

Fine, I’m almost seventy years old. Pfui. I’ve also got six brand new novels being published this coming year. Take that, whippersnappers. as you fumble at your pencil sharpeners.

Doctors found elevated levels of calcium in his blood were to blame, caused by a malignancy that was probably in his spleen. They did surgery to remove Flint’s spleen

The spleen is like a very very big lymph node and it acts mainly as a blood filter. Happily — for people in my situation — it’s one of the body’s organs that can just be removed without usually any major side effects. There are some, and they’re ongoing. When you lose your spleen, you will henceforth be more susceptible to many diseases and you have to be careful the rest of your life. The big ones you have to watch out for are pneumonia and influenza, but there are others like meningitis.

On the negative side, the spleen is basically just a big sack of blood. That means you can’t do a biopsy to find out what might be wrong with it. You’d just poke a hole and spill blood all over your abdominal sack and congratulations, stupe, if it is malignant you just spread the malignancy all over the place.

So with the spleen, it’s all or nothing. If you think there’s something wrong with it — and all of the tests were ringing alarm bells — you just take it out. If it turns out you were right and it was malignant, voila, then you’ve done the surgery. And if it turns out you were wrong, well, so it goes. Start over and find where the malignancy really was.

So, on Friday, they took my spleen out. It was enlarged about 150% above normal size — yes, that was one of the alarm bells — so the incision’s pretty damn impressive.

The results have been encouraging —

The ontological risk is still unclear and will remain so for some time. Weeks, at least; quite possibly, years. There are a number of early good signs in that respect, in my case, which I’ll explain after my next coffee break.

But the verdict is in with regard to the surgical risk, which can now be rated as Zero. The surgery was completely successful, everything went smoothly with no complications, and enough days have now gone by (six, roughly) that we can be fairly sure there’s no longer any risk of infection.

As soon as the spleen came out, all the blood test results dropped to normal: calcium levels, you name it. Needless to say, this is a good sign.

Flint indicated he’ll be writing a third post later with more post-surgery details.